Dear Mr. John Doe:
I recently wrote to you about my wife’s year long experience with finding treatment for her depression caused by a concussion/traumatic brain injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident, but now I will to bring to your attention another serious matter that began over 4 years ago before I even met her.
Student was enrolled in a University’s masters program and was expected to receive her Masters in Social Work, a life long dream of hers, within the year. During this last year, in February of 2013, Student had sought treatment for depression off campus and as a result had an unexpected stay at a psychiatric hospital and was out of school for approximately 3 weeks. Upon her return to the school she was told she would not be able to attend classes unless she handed over her entire psychiatric medical history, and not just that of the most recent hospitalization. This was in addition to signed releases, meeting with counselors and completing a community provider form in addition to more re-entry requirements. This far-reaching request is a violation HIPAA standards and student refused to provide that much unnecessary documentation. As a result of her failure to comply with the schools unreasonable request she was refused re-entry. After trying to resolve this with the school on her own, for almost two months, she retained an attorney and attempted to find a resolution via mediation but the school would not budge. As a result a civil rights violation was filed with the Dept. of Education Office of Civil Rights who was to have completed their investigation by December of 2013.
After 2 years with no resolution from the Dept. of Education, a federal lawsuit was filed against both the University and the Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights for civil rights and ADA violations.
Then after 2 and ½ years, in early 2016 the Dept. of Education handed down an unfavorable determination in regards to student claims. Then just several months later, in June of 2016, the presiding Judge, dismissed the case before it even went to discovery, ignoring students constitutional rights to due process, stating that the case was frivolous, had no merit and that the University did not discriminate against student and her disability. She and her husband were blown away by this decision as how can that statement be made before each side has had a chance to make their case and present evidence after the discovery phase?
As expected student and her attorney filed an appeal and that was heard this last May in 2017. In this case the appellate court was to decide if the lower court violated students rights to due process and therefore move the case back into discovery because without discovery, which one needs to prove a case, there is no case. Student & her husband both attended oral hearing, her attorney was unable to properly present her case due to the barrage of questions asked by the panel of Judges and this is when they asked very few questions of the defending attorneys. The Appellate Court’s decision came back in a few weeks and they upheld the original courts decision. But again their decision was based on potential merits of the case and not what the appeal was about, which was to get the case back to the lower court to move into discovery so we may present our evidence.
The whole premise of the lawsuit hinges on the contents of a FOIA request received by students attorney detailing correspondence between university and the Dept. of Edication regarding other students not going through the standard re-entry process. Had the Judges of the appellate court let students attorney try her case they would have discovered that it directly contradicts what is stated in the Dept. of Education’s determination where they state all students did go through the same standard re-entry process. This seems to point to some collusion between University and the Dept. of Education and now that the appeal has been denied there is no further opportunity to move to a discovery phase to prove our case.
Of course this is not the only misconduct and injustices that has been committed throughout this process. First we have a lower court Judge, who besides dismissing the case as frivolous, before discovery, also threatened my wife and her attorney for doing as such, essentially saying it better not end back up in his court.
Next we have the attorney for University. The appeal was filed in the Second District Court of NY, but they were never admitted to that court, not to mention he was operating out of his scope of practice. But this is minor in comparison to his dishonest, deceitful and misrepresenting conduct during the hearing. One reference in particular is when he, without hesitation stated that the re-entry process for Fordham is applied equally to all students which completely contradicts a letter that was submitted into evidence that the process is clearly not followed for all students. This is just one example of his judicial misconduct.
In regards to the ADA representing the Dept. of Education, it was never disclosed that she was a graduate of the University and obviously she didn’t recuse herself for a conflict of interest in this case.
Lastly we have the judicial misconduct committed buy the Judges, of the appellate court. This is all evidenced by the fact that they clearly never let students attorney state her case and used up her time by asking questions one after another after another, not on the merits of the appeal but of the case as a whole. There was clearly a bias here as the university and DOE attorney’s were asked a fraction of the questions asked to students attorney and in one case they did not even use all of their time. Judges are supposed to impartial but in this case they were more interested in having their questions answered instead of listening to the merits of the appeal and why it should move forward to discovery.
Complaints have been filed for all the above misconduct and to add insult to injury, when we originally tied to gain the audio recording of the hearing it was only the first 2 or so minutes on continuous loop. Then just a couple of weeks ago it was changed to about ¾’s of the recording before it started to loop and then within a matter of minutes there was the full recording. Of course it didn’t stay like that for long and now it’s back to just be the first 2 minutes looping. Why all these changes? What is being changed between each edit? How do we know if this is credible evidence any more?
You will find attached to this letter a copy of a binder student and I have put together of this case with all necessary documentation, records, and complaints to back up the claims above.
But of course our nightmare doesn’t end there. After the appeals hearing we decided to find different representation and ended our relationship with the current attorney. Not having any more money to spend on attorney fees we decided to bring the case to Disability Rights as they are supposed to be there for people with disabilities. Unfortunately, we met with several more roadblocks stating that they do not take individual cases, only cases that reach a broader audience, which if you do some research on them is untrue. Furthermore, the attorney we were assigned did not have a background in the mental health field and seemed to be very new to this field. When we told her what we had done in regards to complaints she mailed us instructions in the mail on how to file complaints. We went to her supervisor and was met with more hostility and them finally telling student they would not take her case. Then to add insult to injury student begins receiving fundraising emails, which she did not sign up for, from disability rights as well as a “rejection” letter from the original attorney. This was completely unprofessional and unnecessary, not to mention borderline harassment, as it is just adds to the trauma already endured by student from her treatment at University.
While all this may seem trivial to some, this was students dream, and to have it ripped away from her, she is left with $175,000.00 in student loan debt and no degree because after five years your credits are considered no longer good and with zero recourse is beyond unconscionable. Now we are left with filing complaints, corresponding with our representatives and hoping we can find an attorney who can take on this case, give us proper representation and take it to the next level.